TEHRAN – The commander of the Russian navy, Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, visited Tehran on Tuesday, where he discussed boosting bilateral cooperation with his counterpart Shahram Irani,
The head of the Iranian army called for the establishment of a joint committee for “further interaction in technical and training fields,” according to the state news agency IRNA.
“The enemy is pressing to disrupt the Iran-China-Russia triangle and block trilateral cooperation,” Irani said, noting that the three countries have still managed to make progress together.
The meeting took place less than two months after Iran, Russia and China held four days of joint naval exercises in the Gulf of Oman, where Iran’s Jamaran Moudge-class frigate rubbed shoulders with the South China Sea Fleet warship Nanning and the Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov.
During the meeting in Tehran, the two admirals reportedly pushed for new military agreements and their speedy implementation. The IRNA report produced no further details, but quoted the Russian navy commander as saying: “We are confident that we are on the right track.”
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Islamic Republic has faced increasing accusations of aiding Moscow in the conflict, most controversially through drone shipments which reportedly target Ukrainian infrastructure on an almost daily basis. Iran has denied making any such renditions during the war, but has acknowledged military cooperation with its increasingly isolated ally.
Tehran’s push to forge a naval alliance with Russia also came at a time of renewed criticism from its arch-enemy the United States over what is seen as destabilizing behavior by the Islamic Republic on shipping lanes.
Last week, the Pentagon announced plans to send reinforcements to the Persian Gulf, citing increasing “harassment” by Iranian forces in strategic waters.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby highlighted Iran’s record of having “harassed, attacked or interfered” with international-flagged vessels.
In reaction, Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the statements as “old and baseless accusations,” according to the semi-official ISNA news agency. Spokesman Nasser Kanaani praised Iran as “the most efficient country in providing navigation security in the Persian Gulf and international waters and has consistently ensured the safe transit of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz.”
In a span of less than a week between late April and early May, Iranian naval forces confirmed having captured two tankers: Advantage Sweet, flying the Marshall Islands flag, and Niovi, flying the Panama flag. The two ships remain in custody in unidentified Iranian ports.